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Police break up MIT frat party with waterfall along stairs

An MIT fraternity house party was broken up by Boston police on Sunday night after detectives found underage drinking, unsafe conditions including overcrowding, and water pouring down a flight of stairs, officials said.

The MIT chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity was issued a violation after detectives inspected its house at 97 Bay State Rd. around 11:50 p.m. Sunday, police said.

Members of the Boston Police Licensed Premises Unit near the fraternity house saw “a line of approximately 40 college-aged persons awaiting entry” and initiated the inspection. The fraternity house is licensed as a dormitory by the City of Boston.

“Students should be advised that my officers are out there checking and making sure they do the right thing and the safe thing,” Boston police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement.


Detectives inspecting the house found a fraternity member restricting entry at the front door and keeping a “mechanical count” of persons inside the building, which he reported to be 116 people, police said.

Detectives then entered the house and saw an 18-year-old male with a can of Bud Lite. As they continued on the first floor, they found the occupancy of the building to be “well in excess” of the posted city limit of 39 dormitory residents.

Police also found the first floor was “being operated as a nightclub,” with low lighting, strobe lights, and an unlicensed DJ providing entertainment.

In addition, a waterfall was found installed on an upper floor allowing water to cascade along the central stairwell of the house. The waterfall was “soaking the marble staircase and adding to the hazardous conditions presented by the excessive occupancy,” police said.

Following the inspection, police evacuated the dormitory of all nonresidents and issued a licensed premise violation to the president of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity chapter.


The violation was issued for a minor in possession of alcohol inside licensed dormitory, overcrowding in excess of licensed capacity, DJ entertainment without approval, and hazardous conditions inside a building.

Evans said the police department is not aiming to crack down on students.

“Our goal is not to put a damper on students’ fun, but when we see conditions that put these students’ safety at risk — underage drinking, waterfalls down marble staircases, fire hazards and overcrowding — we are obligated to step in and shut it down,” Evans said.

MIT officials and the Phi Delta Theta chapter did not respond to requests for comment.

Ben Thompson can be reached at ben.thompson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Globe_Thompson